Great real-time motivation strategies

by Paul Hankin



Hello Stephanie! Thought I might provide you with some feedback. I have just finished a tour and had a good read of the article "What is the key to goal achievement?" I must say it's a very topical article for me right now as I have always been very good at goal-setting and planning, but downright weak in goal completion.

I intend to begin using the LTL Guitar videos this week (yes, they arrived safely, thanks) and will keep a diary of sorts on my progress and of how active/lazy I am in the aquisition of the knowledge and skills. I am particularly excited about this process because it is not just pure knowledge accumulation (like Uni was), but also incorporates the aquiring of a physical skill as well - and one that needs to work inconjunction with the pure knowledge aquired.

In the spirit of making a contribution to your website I have made some notes about my own personal experiences and struggles in the area of goal achievement that you may find useful.

A little good psycho-babble

I find when it comes to goal completion that often a piece of psychology that works for me runs counter to what I was often told by well meaning parents. That is, I often tell myself "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly".

And I know why this works.

It strikes right at the core of perfectionist-framed procrastinators, who are bright people, usually fine at completing a goal once moving. Ah, but to get us moving, that's why I use this trick.

Planning piques procrastination

Here another thing I do. If I know I need to study say 5 chapters in 5 days, I would in the past neatly block out the required "work rate" of say 1 chapter per day.

Of course, this would immediately generate anticipation and cause approach avoidance. So I would then look for a procrastinator's window of opportunity, such as ruling up margins, creating pretty folders, laminating the text books, etc. Then as I was crossing out my plan for the third time with only 3 days left, adjusting the "work rate" to 2 chapters per day, I realised that the strategy wasn't providing the requisite outcome.

So now I place a different level of pressure on myself. I call it a "vacuum", as it sucks me into the task. It produces negative pressure that draws you in. I tell myself that all I have to do is study the 1st point or concept in the 1st sentence of the 1st paragraph in the 1st chapter of the text book. Even then I tell myself that I am not to study this 1st point but rather to just locate it in the 1st paragraph and find out what the concept is. Breaking down the work into the smallest unit of work possible is a concept I have come across before and it works very well. I think I got that one from your seminar - it's chunking isn't it?.

Of course, because my brain is so greedy, once it reads, thinks and digests that measly little one point or concept it can't be stopped, but by that point the procrastination is long forgotten, it's hold is broken.

Easy goals are a way to go

I find it invaluable to set goals that are too easy to achieve, to almost try and under achieve. I have faith in this method because I believe in the pressure/performance bell curve whereby I respond well to a little stimulus but that my response falls off as the pressure increases past a threshold point.

Further to that I have also found in goal setting, which I see as expectation setting in a specific timeframe, that often a direction to head in is all that's needed. I find when I set expectations that often they are below what I can really produce - just as most people don't believe they can learn at accelerated rates, I often would set goals based on what was "within my range" or realistic. Then I would perform within or below this set goal. This I find can be limiting, so now I just manage the downside of the possible outcomes and set few expectations for the upside other than the behaviour I desire to see myself exhibiting, eg; highest quality of thought & action possible in the moment, intensity of thought & action, rejection of fear, rejection of anticipation and other tricks I use on myself.

Fantastic stuff really. "Between stimulus and response" and all that.

Stumbling blocks

Another trick I use in goal attainment, particularly in performing unpleasant activities as you mentioned in your article, is to place them visually (or even pyhsically) in front of a pleasant task. Eg; I really want to read a new book I just purchased, but then there's a chore like washing to be done.

I will picture myself phsyically "breaking through" my washing basket to reach the new book (all in my mind of course!).

Or I will even place the washing basket in my way in the lounge to act

(1) as a general reminder, and more strongly as an annoyance that now I want to be removed from my path around the flat as well as

(2) placing the basket in between myself and the book to let me know that "I get that when I've done this".

Of course I could probably "synergize" the lot and take the book with me to read in the laundromat, however that spot is already taken as I leave the washing going and head off to do some shopping.

But enough of domestic duties, I hope these anecdotes have been of interest or at least entertaining. I'll keep you updated on the videos progress.

Regards, Paul Hankin



Be aware of when you have stumbled into a procrastinator's window of opportunity!!

It can be very rewarding to
keep a journal of the ways you clever avoid important tasks and equally clever ways you motivate yourself into action.

Create a vacuum by placing a different level of pressure on yourself

Have someone put a snapping turtle in your bed to help you get up when you say you will get up.

Know the value of setting goals that are too easy to achieve - strive for
under - achievement

I will eat one thing that is
good for me today!

Thanks Paul!

If you would like more information about the Learning To Learn Guitar course I created use the kiosk. The 3rd button from the left is linked to information on the product.


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